Connie Black has been a club member at Wasabi Ventures Stables since July 2018. She also was the very first club member to become a monthly donor to The Horse Fund. I recently interviewed Connie to learn more about her passion for horses.

What is your relationship with thoroughbreds?

My first real connection with thoroughbred was winning a tiny piece of Willie The Whale with Wasabi. We have always owned quarter horses and began racing them in 2014. In addition to some of the Wasabi race horses and broodmares, I now own my own TB broodmare, who has given me two beautiful fillies, born on the same date a year apart.

How long have you been involved?

I’ve personally been involved with horses, in general, since meeting my husband in 1972. He grew up showing western pleasure horses in 4H, boarded others’ horses, then started barrel racing after we got married. Yes, he even got me to barrel race a few times. I think my life passed before my eyes every time I did it!

When did you first learn about thoroughbred aftercare?

I had heard about TB aftercare through trade magazines and social media before ever owning one. Even though I know very little about the RRP (Retired Racehorse Project), I’ve seen a few people working with horses aimed toward that when we visited our trainer, who used to take our quarter horses to Florida in the off-season from our racing in Indiana. They stayed at a training center next to the Florida Horse Park. The proximity to that drew lots of TB folks to stay at the same training center. It was fun to watch them work their horses in events I’d never seen before.

Do you have other involvements with thoroughbred aftercare?

I don’t directly have any involvement in aftercare, other than always trying to help any of our trainer friends try to find new owners/homes for horses they’ve worked with that just aren’t suited for track life.

What made you decide to become a monthly donor?

I’ve always been one to try to help when it comes to animal causes. My Amazon Prime Smile rewards go to a local animal rescue, His Hands Extended. I’ve been a supporter of The Barn Santuary ever since I first saw the TV show. Being able to have a monthly donation automatically made to The Horse Fund is so very easy. It’s become a permanent part of my monthly horse budget. I even gave up my mani-pedis so I could get another horse! I decided it was a better use of my “fun” money. My nails are always a mess after I come in from the barn anyway! 😄

What do you think people need to know about aftercare?

I think many people may not be aware of all the possibilities that exist for horses leaving the race life. Maybe they’ll go to eventing of some kind, a few may make it to the barrel pen, some may be able to transition to a therapy horse, be used for trail riding, become a broodmare, or my favorite, just be a pasture pet.

What else can The Horse Fund do for the horse racing community and/or thoroughbreds?

I’m thrilled The Horse Fund has been able to step in and assist a few horses start their race retirement years when others would have kept pushing them in a career unsuited to them. Setting a good example of what’s right to do for the horse and being a good steward of the funds collected are great ways to show the industry the best way to help horses post-racing. Maybe at some point The Horse Fund can extend far beyond the membership of Wasabi.

Is there anything else you want to share?

It’s been very educational to be part of the Wasabi family. I’m really grateful for all the information shared and so happy knowing I get to be a small part of helping make a better life possible for some horses through The Horse Fund.

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
~Winston Churchill

“Horses do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
~EquestrianCo.com

Many thanks to Connie Black not only for taking the time to answer these questions but also for continuing to be a valued part of our community.

The first full year of operations for The Horse Fund was highly successful on multiple levels. Not only did we facilitate safe and secure retirements for a number of thoroughbreds, we also shared updates on many retirees, as well as surpassed our fundraising goals. Let’s take a moment and look at each of those categories in review.

Retirements

In 2022, we assisted in the retirement of 14 Wasabi Ventures Stables (WVS) horses. Nine of these retirements were initiated by Wasabi. Of those nine, we made charitable donations to five aftercare organizations, with whom the horses were placed. The other four retirements incurred no fees.

In July we made our first private purchase of a former WVS horse, which we then retired. This purchase was followed by four more purchases through the end of the year, making a grand total of five purchases.

Updates

We published 45 articles on our website last year. Of those articles, we had 33 updates on retirements, private purchases, and retirees. We also posted 5 interviews with aftercare organizations. The remainder of our articles were promotional items for The Horse Fund, including upcoming events and other interesting tidbits.

Fundraising

The best way to describe our fundraising in 2022 is amazing! Although our auctions and Shamrock Kid Day celebrations raised slightly less than anticipated, our 12 Days of Giving campaign raised three times the anticipated amount. What played a huge role in this achievement was the generosity of three matching donors with amounts of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,500, as well another donor who gave $100 for each of the 12 days. All three goals were met and exceeded, for a grand total of $13,163.57 raised. This generosity will assist us in continuing to privately purchase former WVS horses who are ready to be retired.

In Review

Last year truly was a success on all levels. In 2023 as we continue to track these horses, both before and after retirement, we hope to make a greater impact in the world of thoroughbred aftercare. We want not only to educate others on the importance of aftercare but also to inspire other horse ownership groups to take a more proactive stance.

To take a peek at the fourteen retirees of 2022, please click here.

Here’s the latest update on Alli, FKA Allied Invasion, from his owner, Claire.

I read an OTTB post a few weeks ago that really captured what Allī has taught me. “Your horse doesn’t wear a watch. So, he’s in no hurry.” Allī has taught me the patience of a walk warm-up. He definitely has an opinion about walking easily for 10 minutes, on a loose rein and a gentle supporting leg before he’s ready to “get to work.” I’ve learned to just let him walk without any pressure first. I might halt softly and then ask for an upward transition a few times during the warm-up. I get much further in my ride if I allow for the lighter touch, rather than demanding he move off my leg immediately. Otherwise, he just resists. (This is new for me because my other OTTB preferred you be strong in the beginning to help him warm up.)

Trust the process

I’ve also learned that he will make great progress and then have a week where he goes backwards. This has also taught me to trust his process, back down a step or two, and let him build his confidence again. Once I accepted this is how he learns, these backward slides are fewer and we move forward again in no time. He is also a horse I have learned to be persistent when he isn’t listening. If I am patient and keep asking, he will acquiesce. If I give in to him, I will be having the same argument with him for a week.

Cold weather interruption

We’ve had some bitterly cold weather here in New Jersey this past week. So, I elected to work on ground work, rather than riding. Expectedly, my first ride back in a week, he was definitely up, but he did well once he allowed himself to relax and move forward. Allī LOVES trot pole configurations. I try to have a different configuration every day. It keeps him fresh, and it’s a great way to engage his mind while we are working in the indoor. Allī also loves lateral work. He has a mean turn on the haunches.

Diet changes

I’ve also treated him for ulcers once more. He was exhibiting signs around Thanksgiving. Upon the vet’s recommendation, I also added Purina Outlast to his diet. It made an immediate difference in both his weight and demeanor. He’s not as mouthy on the ground. It also made his coat gleam even more. I am grateful to Allī every day. He is such a personality, and I am enjoying the partnership.

Many thanks to Claire for this terrific and thorough update. To read Alli’s previous update, please click here.

Recently, I spoke with Jan Ely, Program Coordinator at Galloping Out, to learn more about their program.

Where is Galloping Out based?

Galloping out is based at Hawthorne. It also was based at Arlington until it closed last fall.

How did your program begin?

Illinois was home to the last horse slaughterhouse in America. There were two in Texas in the early 2000s, but the slaughterhouse in DeKalb was the last to remain open. Jan worked with a few other people to make it illegal in Illinois, which took three years. Along the way, people asked what they would do with the horses once the slaughterhouse was closed. That was the start of Galloping Out. The slaughterhouse closed in 2007, and Galloping Out opened in 2010.

What happens when a horse is accepted into your program?

Before Galloping Out accepts a horse, Jan visits and assesses the horse, as well as interviews the trainer. She takes photos of the horse and marks the horse as permanently retired in the Jockey Club. GO will do vet work if needed at their vet clinic, which is located on the track.

Galloping Out works with seven farms. Depending on each farm’s capacity and each horse’s situation a farm is chosen. Once at the farm, each horse, even a sound horse, gets six to eight weeks of down time. The team “test drives” all of them before making them available for adoption. 

Do you work with other locations or farms in your program? 

As noted above, this program is based at the track and sends the horses to program farms. Like Beyond the Wire in Maryland, they have an office on the backstretch. 

There are two requirements for horses applying with Galloping Out. They need to be Chicago-based horses and have the ability to get sound enough to be adoptable. 

Do you require new owners to do reporting?

Yes, potential adopters are required to complete an application. This includes questions about the rider’s skill level, what they want in a horse, references, and financial stability, among other items. Once approved, the adopter signs a contract, which includes clauses for no breeding and no slaughter. Adopters are told that if the adoption doesn’t work, they just need to call Galloping Out. 

Galloping Out friends adopters on Facebook as an additional way to track the horses. However, most adopters can’t wait to send pictures to Galloping Out.

How many horses have gone through your program?

Almost 300 horses have been adopted via Galloping Out.

How does Galloping Out receive funding?

Galloping Out receives funding through grants, TAA-accreditation, TCA, Equis Foundation, and ASPCA. Hawthorne also has a per start aftercare fee during racing season. Plus, Hawthorne writes a check every meet. 

Do you have a story about a horse that we can share with our readers?

Win D Prado, who was adopted in 2019, is one of the more memorable horses to go through Galloping Out. He had the second worst bowed tendon that they ever took in the program. He had a very long rehab. Once that was done, a woman from Michigan came to get him. She took him home and boarded him at a farm and then proceeded to buy property and build a barn just for him. Since then Win D has been busy. He attends parades, sorts cattle, jumps a little, and trail rides. This horse is her whole life. Although his initial prospect was weak, he has found his forever home and will do anything for this woman.

If people want to help your program, what can they do?

Although Galloping Out hasn’t held events in a couple years due to the pandemic, they plan to start events again in the future. Volunteers for events would be wonderful. Some of the farms with whom they work also could use volunteers.

To learn more about Galloping Out, please visit their website.

I spoke with Laurie Lane at Second Call to learn more about their program.

Where is Second Call based?

It is based at Monmouth Park with partner farms in Thurmont, Maryland, and Jackson, Millstone, and Hunter’s Run, New Jersey.

How did your program begin?

Laurie was a co-founder of ReRun in the early 90s. ReRun was a national program with satellite farms in eleven states. Monmouth was always supportive of this program. At some point Laurie recognized Monmouth’s need for its own, dedicated aftercare program and left ReRun to form Second Call in 2012. 

What makes Second Call unique?

Second Call does a lot of triage. They model the program after Turning for Home. Being at the track, Laurie is able to evaluate the horses. At Second Call, they rehabilitate the horse before working with a partner farm to retrain and rehome the horses. Second Call maintains ownership while horses are in triage. 

What are the criteria for accepting a horse into your program? What happens after a horse is accepted?

The horse has to be stabled or running at Monmouth to be accepted. Once accepted, Second Call does a full soundness evaluation with a veterinarian. We decided on a best course of action. If the horse needs rehab, the horse stays with Second Call until it is ready for retraining. When a horse is ready for retraining and rehoming, Second Call works with After The Races, Thoroughbred Retirement, Rehabilitation and Careers, and Bluebloods. These programs receive a care stipend when taking a horse.

Do you require new owners to do reporting?

When a horse is transferred to one of the retraining programs, that program has ownership. Once the horse is adopted, the program includes Second Call on the paperwork, which lets them know where and to whom the horse was adopted. Additionally, it provides a double safety net, as Second Call can be contacted if something goes awry with the horse.

How many horses have gone through your program?

In the first few years, the number of horses was smaller, but in recent years Second Call has averaged 40-50 retirements per meet.

How does Second Call receive funding?

Second Call receives funding via Monmouth Park, private donations, and grants. They also have TAA accreditation, which provides funding. New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association holds an annual golf outing that provides funding as well.

Do you have a story about a horse that we can share with our readers?

Laurie had a story about PJ’s Bad Boy:

PJ’s Bad Boy came to Second Call with quite the “Bad Boy” reputation. He was a super confident horse that had neither patience nor tolerance for his humans. PJ had an amazing breeder/owner, who after a conversation with him, it was evident he loved PJ very much and wanted the best for him. PJ was spoiled and always got his way. He became a bit of a monster child and would lash out if asked to do the simplest task, such as stand still for the vet. PJ arrived on our farm and met his “Super Nanny”. Just like the show Super Nanny, Marilyn has an amazing gift to read and understand what each and every horses needs. Marilyn looked at him with a smile and said, “You’ve been a naughty, naughty boy.” Marilyn spent months teaching our resident bad boy manners and that love sometimes means being told no. 

One night we get an email from Beth, who sadly told us she lost her beloved horse and PJ had caught her eye. We very quickly realized how amazing Beth would be as an adopter for PJ. With all his quirks Beth was sure this was her next forever companion. PJ started his 1,200 mile journey to warm and sunny Florida. Beth describes her Bad Boy, “He is the sweetest, funniest boy. Kids who come for their lessons stop and give PJ kisses and treats along with the adults. I love him to pieces!!!!” No words can describe the feeling we get when a horse gets a momma like Beth!

pj

If people want to help your program, what can they do?

Second Call is always glad to accept monetary donations, as well as gift cards for supplies. Most importantly, Laurie wants people to do the right thing. To quote her “I want to not be needed.”

You can learn more about Second Call at https://sctap.com/

You also can follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SecondCallThoroughbreds 

To learn about another aftercare program, read this article.

Wasabi Ventures Stables purchased Shecanflatoutplay at the October 2019 OBS Yearling Auction. She then went to Zoe Valvo at the Middleburg Training Track to begin her training as racehorse. In late spring 2020, she was sent to trainer, Jesse Cruz, who was stabled at Pimlico. There she began her on-track training.

She debuted at Charles Town in January 2021, breaking her maiden there in a maiden special weight in March. Play raced under WVS silks eight times, earning two wins. She also won the hearts of our club with her playful antics and her special relationship with Grace Smith, Jesse Cruz’s assistant and girlfriend.

Grace’s introduction to Shecanflatoutplay

I have known Shecanflatoutplay since I met Jesse, about 2 years ago. I would go over to see him and the horses at feed time when we first started dating. She was clearly very beautiful, but I had my eyes set on sweet Shamrock Kid. As most of Wasabi Ventures Stables and the club know, I loved him very much and losing him truly devastated me. (Shamrock Kid broke down during training on March 17, 2021.) I told Jesse standing in the barn, “Never let me get attached to another racehorse like that again because I won’t be able to handle it.”

However, when Jesse could no longer stand seeing Shamrock’s empty stall (as it was the first stall), he hesitantly asked if we should move Shecanflatoutplay in there. I, even more hesitantly, agreed. From the moment we moved her into that stall it was like she knew I needed her. She has been there for me every day since. Whenever I needed a snuggle or a shoulder to scratch, she would stand there for me, for however long I needed.

A very special bond

I truly don’t know if she understands how much I love her, but I have loved every second of watching her train in the morning, every breeze, every race. More than anything, I can’t wait to ride her off the track. I feel so blessed that TK, Michele, and, of course, the WVS club retired her with me where she will be forever loved and spoiled (more than she already was!) I can’t wait for this next chapter with Play; I am beyond excited. It will be a long road with rehabbing her tendon injury. No matter what, I just can’t wait to have her in my life forever and discover what she wants to do in her life off the racetrack!

A new partnership

With Play’s retirement from racing, Grace will be sharing regular updates on Play with The Horse Fund. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to see her latest adventures, which are sure to include PopTarts. In addition to following Shecanflatoutplay’s transition, The Horse Fund will sponsor Grace and Play, as they plan to compete in the 2023 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover.

Liam is fitting right into his new life as a pampered show pony!  His personality blooms more everyday!  When I walk into the barn I’m greeted by him nickering and kicking the stall.  I cannot tell if he is excited to see me, or if he is more excited for the prospect of treats. The jury is still out on that one!

Health update

I noticed some body soreness issues about a month ago. We promptly had the chiropractor out (his new best buddy).  She informed me that Liam’s body is growing/changing very quickly and that we would benefit from monthly chiropractic visits.  I have noticed a drastic difference, and my sweet boy has returned to his happy go lucky self. 

Liam will also be surprised next week with a brand-new saddle!  I decided to get a saddle with more options to be adjusted so we could easily make changes as he continues to grow!

Training update

Liam continues to flourish in his new job.  While he finds flatwork “boring and unnecessary”, he thinks jumping the sticks is the BEST!

He is learning to answer all the questions I put in front of him and is becoming a trustworthy brave hunter.

Showing update

Liam and I have been showing with our barn team on the NIHJA (Northern Illinois Hunter Jumper Association) circuit.  I could not be more proud of him.  We are starting out this season in the Beginner Adult division.  Liam and I ended up taking reserve champion hunter and won the equitation classic at our last show at Leges! We have two more shows coming up on the summer circuit, and then we will start on the indoor circuit!

I’m beyond blessed to have this little red horse in my life.  He brings me so much joy!

Many thanks to Charlotte, who provided this update on Liam.

To read Liam’s previous update, please click here. You also can see more photos of Liam here.

Wasabi Ventures Stables acquired Lap of Luxury in the fall of 2019 when she was a foal along with her mare, Littlemissperfect, from Housatonic Bloodstock. As a yearling, WVS decided to keep Lap for their racing program.

Lap ran six times with three wins for WVS before being claimed away in June 2022. At the end of July she raced in a $6,500 claiming race at Monmouth Park. WVS dropped a claim on Lap to retire her, but there was a two-way shake and another owner got her. However, WVS reached out to the new owner, who was more than glad to sell her to them for her claiming price.

Lap of Luxury’s retirement was our second private purchase. Due to the larger pricetag, TK and Michele Kuegler made a generous donation to The Horse Fund to assist with the purchase.

After a few day stay back in the barn of Jesse Cruz, Lap moved to Maryland to start her transition to off-track life with Nicole Martin. Nicole will give Lap time to unwind before preparing her for her forever home and second career.

We look forward to sharing many wonderful updates on Lap of Luxury.

To make a donation in support of our aftercare mission, please click here.

Today marks a pivotal day for The Horse Fund. Since our formation in April 2021, our goal has been to assist in the safe and secure retirement of thoroughbreds who have run for Wasabi Ventures Stables (WVS). In the past fifteen months, we have assisted in the retirement of a number of horses by making financial contributions. However, all of those retirees were still owned by WVS. Today we have made our first purchase of a former WVS horse, Mission Trail, who now is headed to retirement. 

Getting the horse

This four year old filly, Mission Trail, was claimed away from WVS in August 2021. As we do with all WVS horses, we have tracked her works, entries, and results. In the past few months it has seemed that Mission Trail has been less interested in being a racehorse. This week we presented an offer to her trainer, John McAllen, who accepted. 

With a purchase agreement in place, we planned to work with Second Call Thoroughbred Adoption and Placement for Mission Trail’s transition to post-racing life. However, before we began the paperwork for Mission Trail’s placement at Second Call, we were introduced to her breeders.

Making a plan for Mission Trail

George and Margaret Schwartz have been involved with thoroughbred racing for forty years. Their breeding program has produced not only Mission Trail, but also her dam, second dam, and third dam. With these deep family ties, they were interested in assisting in her transition to off-track life. Mission Trail will be moving to their farm in the next few days.

We have many people to thank for helping us achieve this milestone:

  • our community of supporters, who donate generously in actions and financial contributions
  • Mission Trail’s trainer, who agreed to collaborate with us on this purchase 
  • WVS assistant trainer, Grace Smith, who arranged for Mission Trail’s movement from racetrack to farm, as well as introducing us to the Schwartzes
  • the Schwartzes, who are bringing Mission Trail back to the farm on which she was born 

We are proud of what we have accomplished in the time since our inception and look forward to many more happily ever after stories for these wonderful horses.

Janealee was added to the barns of Wasabi Ventures Stables in February 2018. After four races in their silks, including one win, it was decided that it would be best for her to retire. Her first post-racing career was being a broodmare. Her first foal, a colt named No Me Digas, is a three year old running in the Mid-Atlantic region.

After her second foal was stillborn, Janealee found a new home with Christine, where she has taken a new career. From Christine:

Janealee is doing great. One of my best friends is currently riding and training her to most likely foxhunt. She loves it and is doing great. We also may breed her again at some point. As her foals have been so nice, and she definitely throws her personality.

We look forward to seeing photos of Janealee foxhunting and will share them with all.

To read updates on other retired WVS horses, please click here.